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Mary Lee Bowman collection

Identifier: WLU-Coll-0543

Scope and Contents

This collection primarily focuses on the W. H. F. "Rooney" Lee family. Rooney was the son of Robert E. Lee. Included are photographs, correspondence among family members, invoices and receipts, and a couple of recipes. The primary recipient of the correspondence was Rooney's wife, Mary Tabb Bolling Lee. Correspondents include G. W. C. Lee and Robert E. Lee, III. The photograph subjects include George Bolling Lee, Robert E. Lee, Robert E. Lee, III, W. H. F. Lee, and the President's House at Washington and Lee University. There is also a photograph of the Lee Recumbent statue.

Primary correspondence subjects include White House (Lee farm), Robert E. Lee, III's health, and other family matters. Of particular note is a letter written by Mary Custis Lee in 1922 while on board a ship after spending the day in Athens, Greece. This letter relates to the Mary Custis Lee travel scrapbooks housed in Special Collections (WLU-Coll-0576). Also of note is a letter written by John D. Letcher in 1922 to Mary Tabb Bolling Lee which goes into great detail about how the remains of her young children were reinterred in the Lee family crypt/mausoleum. There is also a typed 1923 letter to Washington and Lee from Giles Buckner Cooke, "sole survivor of the staff of General Robert E. Lee," asking that the Chapel be left intact and a separate auditorium be built elsewhere, if needed.

The collection ranges in date from 1868-1923.


  • Creation: 1868-1923

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The materials from Washington and Lee University Special Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used should be fully credited with the source. Permission for publication of this material, in part or in full, must be secured with the Head of Special Collections.

Biographical Note

Mary Lee Bowman was the daughter of George Bolling Lee and Helen Keeney Lee and the great-granddaughter of Robert E. Lee. She married A. Smith Bowman in 1960. She died in December 2022.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 half document case, one oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection came to us from the Trustees of the Mary Lee Bowman Estate in February 2024. Her collection of family papers and art was distributed among several institutions in Virginia.

Mary Lee Bowman collection
May 2024
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Washington and Lee University, University Library Special Collections and Archives Repository

204 W. Washington St.
Lexington VA 24450 USA